How Wilt’s unreal athleticism forced the NCAA to change rules

How Wilt’s unreal athleticism forced the NCAA to change rules

There has only been a handful of basketball players in history who were so good or had particular skills that rules needed to be changed to stop them because they manipulated a specific aspect of the game. Guys like Kareem, Shaq, Charles, and Mikan all impacted the game that way, but there was no one quite like Wilt Chamberlain.

Wilt’s name is immortal in the NBA world, as he is widely regarded as the most dominant player of all time to this day. We had numerous great centers throughout NBA history, but that didn’t matter as he could go up against any matchup. The brute strength at 7’1” made him impossible to handle in the post, but what really made him unique was the ability to jump out of the gym and run like a track athlete.

Physically Wilt was the perfect embodiment of an athlete without any weakness. Some players from that era get overlooked regarding their athletic abilities, as guys like Wilt and Bill Russell were some of the most athletic freaks the league has ever seen. The fact you can see how dominant and athletic they were from these old-school clips speaks volumes.

When Wilt was coming up in the basketball world during the 1950s, the leagues around North America were still finding their spot in the competitive sports world. The game was still shaping up and introducing rules to achieve balance and deny unfair advantages. But a man of Wilt’s stature, especially in that era, was a cheat code. So to stop Wilt’s dominance, rules started to change already during his college career.

During his two seasons with the Kansas Jayhawks, Wilt already showed what he is made of, dominating and averaging 30 points per game in his second season. A rare and impressive feat got overshadowed by the fact that the NCAA had to adopt rules to stop him. His only weakness was the “charity stripe” shot, as Wilt famously missed 5805 free throws during his NBA career. But Wilt almost even had a solution for that problem.

Apparently, Wilt was so athletic in his college days that he was able to dunk from the free-throw line without a running start. Something we have never seen to this day in baseball history. So instead of shooting a free throw, Wilt could leap and simply lay or dunk the ball in. If everything else fails, Wilt could just throw it off the backboard, step in and dunk it without anybody being able to challenge him. 

The NCAA and the NBA would hear about it and take notice, introducing a few rules regarding free throws. Both feet would have to be planted behind the line when shooting a free throw and stay there until the ball hits the rim. That way, Wilt couldn’t leap towards the hoop or throw it to himself for the dunk, saving his opponents from being helpless. Even though it would be fun to see, you have to admit it would be too unfair, as those rules are still active to this day, even though it’s hard to imagine a player pulling this off today.